Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Lazy Avatar's Guide to iPhone-Powered Machinima

Machinima ( /məˈʃiːnɪmə/ or /məˈʃɪnɪmə/) is the use of real-time 3D computer graphics rendering engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, games are used to generate the computer animation. Wikipedia
Over the past three years I've experimented with many methods, styles and platforms in the course of creating about 90 machinima. I love making videos and the medium has been a very important aspect of my creative life.

One of my reasons for living a fairly public life through an avatar identity is to encourage and support the use of virtual worlds as a platform for creative expression. Although virtual photography is a pretty universal medium of artistic expression, only a relatively small percentage of the avatar community makes machinima. I suspect the main reason is that the technical aspects of video creation are relatively more complex and intimidating. So I thought it would be helpful to share a quick and easy method I've been using to create simple music-video style machinima using an iPhone, iPad or iTouch. If you're like me and are too lazy for the 48 Hour Film Project, here's my 4.8 Hour Machinima Project methodology:
  1. Teleport into a cool setting
  2. Activate a dance animation
  3. Capture a variety of shots using your mobile device's camera
  4. Start a new iMovie project
  5. Add a music track from iTunes Library
  6. String together some of your shots
  7. Export video
  8. (optional) Use a program like Silent Film Director or Cinema FXV to spice up the look 
  9. Upload to Vimeo, YouTube or Flickr
I was playing around in IMVU this weekend so I decided to shoot a couple example videos there. I used the same avatar look and dance animation in both videos. I changed the set, the effects and the music to create two very different feels. They were each created from start to finish in just a few hours.

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